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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Don't touch this: Hammer biopic falls short of the mark

Author: Glacier571-3 from San Francisco
28 December 2001

As if getting his own episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" four years ago – which was one of the very first episodes produced for the popular series – wasn't enough, it was perhaps only a matter of time before MC Hammer was immortalized in TV-movie infamy as well.

"Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story," directed by Artie Mandelberg and starring relative unknown Romany Malco as the eponymous rapper and Bay Area native (despite bearing almost completely no resemblance to Hammer whatsoever), never rises above the level of cheesiness, predictability and tepid acting we're so accustomed to in small-screen, celebrity-biopic movies.

It also falls victim to an array of incredibly bad wigs and wretched outfits that even the Brady Bunch would've rejected.

It begins in 1974 with an eleven-year-old Hammer, then known as Stan Burrell (who was born in 1963; that's right, he'll hit the big 4-0 in less than two years) ditching church and running to the Oakland Coliseum, where he earns money by dancing to James Brown music in the parking lot. After being spotted by then-Athletics owner Charlie Finley, he's made an honorary batboy. He's soon nicknamed "Hammer" due to his resemblance to Hank Aaron. Scenes of bespectacled, wide-eyed Li'l Hammer in the dugout are spliced in with actual game footage. (And, he can apparently travel back in time as well; the ballgame shown is from 1972.)

They could have titled this "Behind The Music: The Movie" and nobody would have noticed, because that's what "Too Legit" comes across as. It's practically clockwork with the 1997 documentary; it includes scenes of Hammer failing to make the A's roster, meeting future wife Stephanie (played by Tangi Miller), plus Hammer selling records from the trunk of his car, then being discovered by Capitol Records…you get the idea. Meanwhile, he's accompanied in practically every scene by his stone-faced brother, Wesley (portrayed by once-promising actor Royale Watkins, who probably still wishes to this very day that he'd turned down "Speed 2").

Despite all the aforementioned activity, everything moves so painfully slow up to the point when his career takes off and eventually comes crashing down, which – let's be honest – is what we're really interested in watching.

But when that time comes, the whole film then becomes a mess of a convoluted plot, a muddled script and positively abominable editing.

For example, we're shown a barrage of abrupt jump cuts of pre-1990s-fame Hammer cutting a record in a studio to choreographing dance moves on a basketball court to selling albums out of his car. Then, out of nowhere, everything instantly cuts to a tour bus parked in an inner-city neighborhood, accompanied by Hammer along with his outrageous haircut and huge entourage. Just like that.

And the violence factor is surprisingly high; there are numerous subplots in which a different character gets shot what seems every five minutes due to botched drug deals, band feuds and the like, and there is plenty of blood to boot. So many unimportant characters come and go quickly; I couldn't keep up with all of Hammer's friends and foes.

Much of the second half of the film is devoted to Hammer performing in concert and doing silly promotional TV spots for his 1990 album "Please Hammer Don't Hurt ‘Em," that, as a result, everything else that follows is badly rushed. Some of his other accomplishments – and shortcomings – are ignored altogether (with the most notable being the ignominious absence of the smash hit "Pray").

Besides the inevitable scenes of Hammer staring dumbfounded at tax lawyers upon being informed that he's suddenly gone bankrupt, the film also portrays him as a blowhard egomaniac; he barks orders to and berates his backup dancers like a sergeant drilling a group of privates in between more lengthy concert scenes (which look like they were shot on a tiny soundstage) while engaging in occasional spats with his wife that anyone could see coming from a country mile away. Stop me if you've traveled this road before.

By the time the film focuses on Hammer's embarrassing foray into gangsta rap, his 1994 album "The Funky Headhunter," Mandelberg apparently forgot that he was making a movie about Hammer and not Tupac Shakur, for the latter inexplicably dominates the film's last 45 minutes. A gratuitous interpretation of Tupac's fatal shooting and subsequent lengthy shots of Hammer looming over his bedridden, comatose form arrive in full force, right before jump-cutting to one copout of an ending.

As is with Hammer, the actor portraying Tupac (who is not identified in the closing credits) looks nor sounds nothing like the real thing, either.

It must have been one hell of a well-kept secret that Hammer ever negotiated with Death Row Records, because I sure wasn't aware of it. Washed-up, has-been ex-wrestler Tony Norris (remember Ahmed Johnson, anyone?) is utterly laughable as – gasp – Suge Knight, who probably can't remember the last time his greatest hits didn't get him arrested.

Oh, and despite playing the most notorious figure of the 1990s rap scene, Norris is listed in the closing credits as merely the "Record Promoter." Huh?

Little mistakes pop up during the course of the film that hamper an already spotty effort. Hammer and Stephanie were married in 1985, not 1984. During Hammer's gangsta rap segment, Tupac is seen wearing a big red "FUBU 05" football jersey, which didn't even exist back in 1994. Contrary to what the film says, Hammer never signed with Death Row; "The Funky Headhunter" was released on the Giant label.

MC Hammer himself is actually given an executive producer credit, but I doubt he had much input in this flimsy movie to begin with. This is on the same level as "The Right Connections" (1997), in which he starred.

It definitely bears mentioning, however, that the charismatic Malco gives his all in this film. He handles the dancing scenes surprisingly well while lip-synching all of Hammer's songs, though I wonder if he could see a thing out of his glasses; those lenses were as big as the windshield of a '68 Cadillac.

"Too Legit" is pretty much only for Hammer diehards (if there are any left); "Behind The Music," although outdated, is far more informative and entertaining. But if there's anything that stands out in this movie, it's when Hammer snaps back at an interviewer who says that his music is not "street enough." It's the best part of the film and worth watching just for that moment alone.

"Too Legit" is an otherwise valiant effort that ultimately falls apart in the end. When you think about it, that's also pretty much MC Hammer's career in a nutshell. 5.5/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Could've been better, big things missing in Hollywoodized movie...

Author: (johnerickrubis) from Hampton Roads, Virginia
24 December 2001

As being co-executive producer of this autobiographical account of his life, MC Hammer could've done better explaining it to a degree where it should've been more specific. Some of what's missing in this movie are: some of his posse (like Oaktown 3-5-7 and 2BigMC), the proof (Billboard-wise) of his songs climbing to the top as history proved it in late '89 to early 90's, the clothes Hammer himself would really wear in his beginnings (I do have to admit some of the clothes he wears before he rises to fame are very too new), more of his children (he only had Akeyba portrayed in the movie), and most importantly, his role in the military which signifies his latest album 'ACTIVE DUTY' (which I'm not sure if it even cracked the Billboard 200 Albums in this day and age). Definitely huge chunks missing in the movie. Regarding the Hollywoodized elements, I didn't know Hammer faced so much of that gun-shooting thing. Or is that too fictional to prove? I was kinda confused by that, honestly .... The actor who portrayed Hammer as a child was a top notcher in his dancing moves but he don't look nothing like Hank Aaron when an athlete says he does. I saw a pic of the real Hammer when he was a kid. Definitely he looks like Hammer! The one who played him as an older Hammer did good on the moves, but still the real Hammer can do better! I do have to give this actor the kudos for putting his best. One thing, though. He doesn't look much of MC Hammer. Good try however ... Rest of the movie's tie-ins to the past is very very mixed. Many of the extras looked too too modern to even be in that timewarp of Hammer's past. There's not much folks with the Box, triangle-fades, Yellow highlights, but some of Hammer's posse had their styles in the movie on-point. The movie's theme shows a good lesson of how to be a rising star and learning from the mistakes we all face in life. I like it's religious inspirations .... Overall, it could've been better. Out of 5, I'd rate this a 2. Being a Hammer fan in the past, I still say Hammer paved the way for the rap music industry today. He let rap be known whether people liked him or not, especially his own.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Inaccuracies Galore!

Author: akakasax from Alameda County, CA
12 November 2002

I've followed M.C. Hammer's career from start to finish.The film was totally inaccurate.We all know that Hammer started with only 4 back up dancers(Oaktown 357 & Ace Juice)if I'm not mistaken and of course 2 Bigg M.C. How could they leave them out.That killed the entire movie for me.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Terrible movie..Limp dancing...horrible acting

Author: Kevin from Atlanta
20 December 2001

I first want to point out that I am a huge MC Hammer fan..I was fan of his when he used to do low budget videos in nightclubs..and was selling his music out of the back of his car. This movie was so glossed over I felt I was watching an afternoon special. The actor playing Hammer didn't look anything like him..the hairpieces that were used to "go back in time" were awful...and look just like toupees'...the dancing was marginal..MC Hammer moved ten times faster and was a lot more electrifying than what was portrayed onscreen..

Where was 2 Big MC?? Oaktown 357...Ace Juice, Special Generation etc....too many fragments missing from this story..Interesting how the song "Pray" was missing from the movie..yet they show Hammer in church twice...all in all this movie sucked..they would have been better off getting the real deal.

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The Vidiot Reviews...

Author: capone666 from Canada
11 November 2014

Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story

The hardest part of being successful is remembering to pay your taxes.

A lesson learned by the young MC in this biography.

From an early age Stanley Burrell (Robert Bailey Jr.) would dance outside of Oakland A's games for money.

Eventually his moves landed him a job as the team's batboy and a nickname that would propel him into stardom.

Spreading his gospel on Sunday years later and selling his rap singles on the street, Stanley's new pseudonym: MC Hammer (Romany Malco) starts spreading as well.

It's not until he releases Can't Touch This, however, that Hammer hits hard.

But his expansive tastes and unending generosity towards his posse soon lands him in hot water with the IRS.

An exemplary VH1 bio-picture, Too Legit not only has the highs and the lows but also top- notch dancing and unexpected cameos.

In hindsight, however, Hammer should've named his hit-song Can't Tax This.

Yellow Light

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Music heard during telecast of Too Legit: MC Hammer Story

Author: esumler from United States
15 February 2007

I just saw Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story tonight on VH1. It was much better than I thought it would be. Near the very end, they played the most amazing blues song, sung by a man and woman. I waited for the credits, and they listed it as "Keep Pushin' On", performed by Joshua Mendoza.

I rarely hear a song that I just HAVE TO HAVE. I went into probably 15 Lyrics sites, searching by song title and artist, and nothing turned up. I didn't just look for Joshua or Mendoza, either. I went through all the J's and M's!! Short of trying to contact VH1, I am at dead-end.

If anyone out there knows the song, what CD it's on, or if I got the song title/artist's name wrong, could you please share that knowledge? I would so appreciate it.

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That ain't Oakland

Author: (jacoblipp) from Houston
20 September 2006

I would just like to ditto the previous comment.

Scenes set in the nondescript old Oakland Coliseum were clearly shot in the sparkly new Minute Maid Park. You could even see the 436 foot marker at straight away center - MMP's distinct deepest Center Field in the majors.

Not that shooting location is that significant, but the truth of the matter is that every aspect of this movie indicates a lack of attention to detail. Although Hammer's story is compelling, if you watch this thing from beginning to end, it's in spite of the production, not because.

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Yeah, Like Half of That Stuff Happened

Author: teedoffguy ( from Cleveland, Ohio
26 December 2001

The acting wasn't great, but at least the history followed MC Hammer up to his bankruptcy..

And then we jump to 1994. First of all, Tupac didn't join Death Row until early 1996, and even then I never remembered him being that down with Hammer. And why were they talking about the Tyson fight while Hammer was shooting "Pumps and a Bump?" The video came out in 1994, when Tyson was still in jail!

I guess this is what we should expect from a VH1 movie...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Average TV movie

Author: kenandraf from Honolulu, Hawaii
30 December 2001

Average TV movie production.Very standard production that could have been done better but the producers decided not too risk too much effort and money for this one.Still,if an MC HAMMER fan would watch this movie not expecting a masterpiece production,heeeeey IT'S ALL GOOD.It's just a little drama on a controversial POSITIVE VS NEGATIVE RAP topic and a good study on the ability of mainstream markets taste to change overnight.Also a good study on overnight multi-millionaires and the materialist/spiritualist balancing act.......

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

good biography, nice family movie, music and dancing was great

Author: hawk_man72000 from Texas, USA
10 April 2002

I liked the movie, despite anything wrong with it, I thought it was a good show and had like only one cuss word in it or something.

I think if it was a national movie and not a cable movie a lot more would have been put into it, I thought Lamont Bentley looked a little like Tupac, he did a great acting in bringing out the late singer. I thought in all it was a good biography and wouldn't mind owning it and watching it over and over again.

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